The Water Resources Center operates under the general guidance of the Dam and Reservoir Safety Council in enforcing dam and reservoir safety laws. This council is responsible for the development of the rules and regulations, and the determination of enforcement procedures to make the law operative. All seven council members are appointed by the governor.

The Water Resources Center is responsible for ensuring that all new and existing non-agricultural, non-federal dams 35 feet or more in height meet minimum safety standards. The program staff reviews engineering plans and specifications; conducts hydrologic, hydraulic and structural analysis of dams; monitors construction of new dams and modification of existing dams; oversees safety inspections of existing dams; and responds to dam safety emergencies so that public safety, life and property are protected. The basic functions of the program are:

Permit Issuance

The program's permit activity involves the issuance of construction, registration and safety permits. Minimum safety standards set by the Dam and Reservoir Safety Council must be met before permits are issued. Registration and safety permits require implementation of operation and maintenance plans.

Engineers on staff perform registration and safety permit renewal inspections for dam owners who apply for permit renewals. The purpose of the inspections is to identify defects that could jeopardize the safety of the dam. The dam owner is required to correct defects identified during these inspections. Staff engineers also review applications that are submitted by licensed, professional engineers for construction permits to build new dams or modify existing dams. The applications are reviewed to ensure that the dam will comply with the requirements of the regulations when construction is complete.

Data Management

Data management includes maintaining data on more than 5,000 dams. This information is used by emergency management officials, private owners, professional engineers, mining companies, educational institutions, other government agencies and the general public.

Inundation Mapping

The program's inundation mapping activity involves the development of a map to be provided to the recorder of deeds of each county showing the downstream area that would be affected in the event of a dam failure.